dark ages coming back to get ya
March 25, 2005 7:29 AM   Subscribe

"In the end, it's the audience that counts." Imax theater chains take imaginary sides in the pretend controversy over evolution.
posted by all-seeing eye dog (126 comments total)

 
God gave us Imax, he can take it away. Don't test him.
posted by fungible at 7:32 AM on March 25, 2005


God can have His Imax. The Doogie Howser MD season one DVD is nearly out.
posted by AlexReynolds at 7:41 AM on March 25, 2005


More on the Marching Morons of Christianity here, in a superb Frank Rich article.
posted by QuietDesperation at 7:42 AM on March 25, 2005


As a 15th century Catholic, I've offended by movies that claim the moons of Jupiter move, or, even worse, that glorify that ridiculous Galileo. We'll never learn anything from such heresy.

Proper science is determined by popular consensus and how closely it hews to ideology.

(Now as a 1970s Harvard Marxist, I think we should go pour water on EO Wilson again. As a 1930s Nazi, I want to expunge the pollution of Jewish science -- those dirty Jewish Little Boys and Fat Men, Einstein and Fermi and von Neumann will never build anything earth-shattering. And as a 1920s Soviet Communist I want to throw out Darwin for Lysenkoism so that our wheat harvest will feed twenty million Kulaks.)
posted by orthogonality at 7:44 AM on March 25, 2005


A Gallup poll, released earlier this month, reveals that 81 percent of U.S. teenagers believe God was somehow involved in human origins, with only 18 percent holding a purely secular view of evolution.

This sort of thing frustrates me to no end. If Gallup asked me, "Was God somehow involved in human origins?" I would answer with a resounding "yes". I don't see what this has to do with macroevolution! There are quite a few people out there who have sufficiently large brains as they can conceptualize a reality that includes both the working scientific theories of the day and their overwhelming certainty of a numinous presence in the world.

I'm sick of pollsters painting Christians (or anyone else, for that matter) as black and white. Lordy! 81% of teens are bible-banging Xtians! And the other 18% are God-hating atheists! I would contend that most Christians are pleased by the widow into God's majesty that Darwin provided. The vocal creationists are misrepresenting the majority, and the pollsters are playing this up with their simple-minded questions.

Imax always made me kind of sick to my stomach, anyway.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 7:45 AM on March 25, 2005


This reminds me of the old planetarium in NYC, before they tore it down and put up the Rose Center: the show I saw there showed the constellations and then where they thought the star that guided the wise men to the Baby Je.

The Rose Center Planetarium ROCKS, btw
posted by papercake at 7:46 AM on March 25, 2005


window. Heh.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 7:46 AM on March 25, 2005


"...to the Baby Je was." that is.
posted by papercake at 7:47 AM on March 25, 2005


Baby_Balrog, where do you get your 81% vs. 18% stats from?

And that extra 1%... those are the Cthulu cult worshipers, I presume.
posted by papercake at 7:49 AM on March 25, 2005


I read that story a few days ago elsewhere, but only WorldNetDaily was thoughtful enough to include a link to a "reader-friendly yet authoritative survey of the very latest scientific evidence against evolution – FREE!" at the end of the article.
posted by Armitage Shanks at 7:51 AM on March 25, 2005


I shit you not, papercake, I almost put that exact same C'thulu joke in my post. But I felt it might detract from my original point.

It's at the bottom of the linked article. And pay it no mind! Numbers lie! (polisci 399: Quantitative Methods).
posted by Baby_Balrog at 7:53 AM on March 25, 2005


I was never a fan of Imax, too loud and too big
posted by drunk7daysaweek at 7:55 AM on March 25, 2005


PRAISE BOB, YOU SLACKLESS PINKOS! THE ATOMIC COWBOY RIDES AGAIN!


0.01% SubGenius, 0.99% mushroom fertility cult, 101% slack!
posted by loquacious at 7:56 AM on March 25, 2005


I'm picturing a near-future in which all movies come not only with the standard parental guidance ratings, but with some new rating system to help you guage the likelihood that a film will challenge your religious beliefs ("Last Temptation..." for example, might garner an "H" rating for "Some heretical content.")
posted by all-seeing eye dog at 8:03 AM on March 25, 2005


Sigh. What ever happened to pre-millenium tension?
posted by n9 at 8:05 AM on March 25, 2005


B_B: you caught me -- I didn't read the whole article. And I do not feel shitted.

Does Gallup ever post what the actual questions were that they asked in their polls? I tried to read the specific poll data on Gallup, but bugmenot failed me
posted by papercake at 8:07 AM on March 25, 2005


Well, Darwin didn't consider his theory a window into God's majesty. He lost his faith after fully grasping the indifference of nature, as exemplified by the Ichneumon wasp, which lays eggs inside the bodies of other insects while they are alive and twitching.
posted by QuietDesperation at 8:11 AM on March 25, 2005


Good for Darwin.

/snark
posted by Baby_Balrog at 8:18 AM on March 25, 2005


Baby_Balrog, don't get upset. 76% of all statistics are completely bogus. 63% of all poll takers know that.
posted by sour cream at 8:19 AM on March 25, 2005


QuietDesperation writes "He lost his faith after fully grasping the indifference of nature, as exemplified by the Ichneumon wasp, which lays eggs inside the bodies of other insects while they are alive and twitching."

God's got to test-market Hell's unplesantries somewhere. If He didn't, it would make a mockery of His infinite Love for us.
posted by orthogonality at 8:20 AM on March 25, 2005


Well, Darwin didn't consider his theory a window into God's majesty.

Maybe not, but Einstein was smarter than Darwin and he believed in God (maybe not in a Yahweh-style, angry-thundercloud, Old Testament type of god, but some kind of god). So, um, paper covers rock...
posted by all-seeing eye dog at 8:20 AM on March 25, 2005


all-seeing eye dog writes " Maybe not, but Einstein was smarter than Darwin a"

Philosopher Daniel Dennett argues that Darwin's idea has more explanatory power than Einstein's.
posted by orthogonality at 8:26 AM on March 25, 2005


a-sedog: Is that another poll? Einstein was 37% smarter than Darwin or somesuch?

B_B: Just goes to show... one person's window to an invisible all-knowing deity is another person's door to a wider world of knowledge and awe, unfettered by magical thinking.
posted by papercake at 8:26 AM on March 25, 2005


Einstein was smarter than Darwin and he believed in God

Actually, Einstein was also an agnostic.
posted by boaz at 8:32 AM on March 25, 2005


When the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History played the movie for a test audience, the responses were sufficiently negative for the museum to drop it from its offerings. Responses like "I really hate it when the theory of evolution is presented as fact," or "I don't agree with their presentation of human existence" doomed the film's chances.

I suppose IMAX theaters are within their rights to cower and appease. I am also not surprised that a purely bottom-line mentality will mean capitulation of reason to fear and fantasy.
posted by beelzbubba at 8:33 AM on March 25, 2005


orthogonality: I was just being flip really (comparing Einstein to Darwin is a little like comparing an aardvark to a throw pillow), but--well, relative explanatory powers of their contributions aside, for better or worse, Einstein's theories actually allowed people to do things they couldn't do before (like blow up whole cities, not that I'm advocating that kind of thing)... And a lot of Darwin's original theories have since been discarded, enhanced, or otherwise modified. Einstein's major theoretical contributions continue to be borne out experimentally, and remain more or less intact...
posted by all-seeing eye dog at 8:36 AM on March 25, 2005


The vocal creationists are misrepresenting the majority, and the pollsters are playing this up with their simple-minded questions.

Perhaps if the rest of these hypothetical Christians spoke up, the "vocal creationists" wouldn't be "misrepresenting" the religion.
posted by AlexReynolds at 8:38 AM on March 25, 2005


Gah! Who cares? Personal belief is personal belief! I don't try to wield Rev. Dr. Frank Gross's immaculate faith in the works of the good Dr. Darwin as a weapon to strike down fundies. Cattle prods are much more effective.

Darwin believed, Einstein believed, Moses believed, phooey! I don't care if you believe the universe was created by cosmic cat farts, the important thing is that we get behind scientific progress and push it up the stairs, rather than standing at the top with a nerf bat, waiting for the next timid bespectacled wonderkid to poke his head out of the lab and say, "Hey, look at this quark I just found."

Personal faith is important! It is valuable! I don't want to go about quoting Durkheim and Jung so I'll spare you. However, it has no place in scientific discourse and it only serves to make us C'thu- er- Christians look foolish, like Ohians! IMAX is a science toy. Don't booger it up with a bunch of OT literalist hogwash.

Papercake: I know that this is really, really hard for some fundamentalist secularists to understand, but my faith actually serves to open up a "wider world of knowledge!" Whoa! Magical thinking, indeed. Magic. Pragmatic manipulation of unseen forces to achieve a desired result. Sound familiar? Some call it science. Don't try and snark me out by equivocating magic with religion. People have been trying to do that for over a century.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 8:39 AM on March 25, 2005


Actually, Einstein was also an agnostic.

Yeah, I guess for me it just seems like Einstein was smart enough to admit there were some things he couldn't possibly know. After you accept that, the calculus of Pascal's wager comes into play, from where I sit...
posted by all-seeing eye dog at 8:40 AM on March 25, 2005


Thank you, Boaz. I'm fed up with people grasping at the straw of Einstein's comment "God does not play dice with the universe" to imply that he was a deist. The use of the word "God" in that statement is more like its use in the phrase "God-given talent" -- indicating something greater than humans can achieve or grasp, which does not necessarily imply a supreme being. Note to Christians and deists: you get Mel Gibson and Tom DeLay, we get Einstein and Darwin.
posted by QuietDesperation at 8:40 AM on March 25, 2005


Note to Christians and deists: you get Mel Gibson and Tom DeLay, we get Einstein and Darwin

Yeah. Silly Christians. Martin Luther King Jr., George Washington Carver, Paulo Friere. Idiots all.

You also get some interesting folks, too. Come on now, don't sell yourself short.
Ignorant comment.

We also get Jesus. Do you have Jesus? We have Jeeeeeeesus.

posted by Baby_Balrog at 8:51 AM on March 25, 2005


I suppose IMAX theaters are within their rights to cower and appease.

It's also possible that someone is stacking the focus groups or one person made all those comments.
posted by fshgrl at 8:53 AM on March 25, 2005


"we get Einstein and Darwin"

See, it seems you're thinking of this as some kind of contest, and that kind of irks me. An agnostic is not the same thing as an atheist. An agnostic is an athiest with a sense of humility. That's the distinction I'm talking about--not the "God doesn't play dice" bunkum. Please don't furnish the subtext of my arguments for me... I'll be glad to elaborate for myself, if asked.
posted by all-seeing eye dog at 8:55 AM on March 25, 2005


B_B: thanks for the info. If I run across any fundamentalist secularists I'll pass it along.

I'm sure your personal faith is important and valuable to you. The problem is that, as this article highlight, it seems many christie fundies who share certain beliefs with you have moved down the stairs and are attempting to nail the lab doors closed.

As far as your faith opening up a wider world, I'll admit ignorance and bias as to not being able to understand your point of view on that one. From my experience faith is served by finding evidence to support a theory that believers demand must be true, whereas science is a constant attempt to find new evidence to challenge things that might be true -- a much wider, more open-door policy, in my mind.
posted by papercake at 8:56 AM on March 25, 2005


Metafilter: Created by Cosmic Cat Farts
posted by Igor XA at 9:04 AM on March 25, 2005


I'm picturing a near-future in which all movies come not only with the standard parental guidance ratings, but with some new rating system to help you guage the likelihood that a film will challenge your religious beliefs ("Last Temptation..." for example, might garner an "H" rating for "Some heretical content.")

It looks like the catholics already have it. Decent films, indeed.
posted by SteveInMaine at 9:05 AM on March 25, 2005


papercake:
Yes. Yes, you are quite right. Faith is different from science. You should publish.

And for the record, an ounce of respect concerning someone's faith goes a long way.

as this article highlight, it seems many christie fundies who share certain beliefs with you have moved down the stairs and are attempting to nail the lab doors closed.

That is exactly what they are doing. However, bashing Christianity for not being "scientific enough" is like kicking your dog for forgetting to do the dishes. And lumping Christians together is ABSOLUTELY NO DIFFERENT from me posting a comment along the lines of:

All those damned atheists (communists) are trying to destroy our kids minds by only teaching the stuff that they want! Every time I meet an atheist, he tries and sell me on communism! Because, you see all the communists are atheists! So it follows that all atheist are communists!

a much wider, more open-door policy, in my mind.

Science is good that way. Religious dogma isn't. The two aren't comparable. One cannot be said to be "better" than the other. I could argue that my religious fervor is infinitely better than all of your scientific mumbo-jumbo because only one of the two is going to keep you out of the hellfire! (Some have argued this before.)

The two shouldn't be stacked against each other. This is the mistake that fundies are making, Atheists shouldn't make the same.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 9:06 AM on March 25, 2005


Well said, Baby_Balrog!
posted by all-seeing eye dog at 9:09 AM on March 25, 2005


An agnostic is an athiest with a sense of humility.

I like that. I'm stealing that :-)
posted by Mr Pointy at 9:11 AM on March 25, 2005


Since when has WND been considered a source of information, anyway? when they come up with nuggets like this:

Because a only small number of IMAX theaters show science films [sic]

one can see that it's pretty much out of touch with reality. The trumpeting of "The case against Darwin" should tell you that you really can't trust WND as a news source anyway.
posted by clevershark at 9:13 AM on March 25, 2005


An agnostic is an atheist with a sense of humility.

Are you trying to equate being an atheist with an overriding sense of arrogance here? Atheists are as capable of feeling humility in the face of the natural world or the kindness of strangers or others knowledge or whatever as anyone else. They simply don't attribute their sense of insignificance or humility to the influence of some supernatural being, merely to the events or evidence at hand.
posted by fshgrl at 9:14 AM on March 25, 2005


Atheists are as capable of feeling humility in the face of the natural world or the kindness of strangers or others knowledge or whatever as anyone else.

While I'll admit I overstated the point a bit for effect, what I mean is this: An athiest, by definition, is someone who's certain there's no God (or gods, as the case may be). An agnostic is someone who admits to not being certain one way or the other, acknowledging that belief in God is an inherently unfalsifiable hypothesis. This stops short of certainty. Certainty is what gets people in trouble, IMO. Athiests consciously position themselves in opposition to theists, while agnostics admit uncertainty into their world view. That makes agnostics more humble about the extent to which they can be certain.
posted by all-seeing eye dog at 9:23 AM on March 25, 2005


Science is good that way. Religious dogma isn't. The two aren't comparable. One cannot be said to be "better" than the other.

"On this side we have the scientists, with their facts.

And on the other side we have... a talking snake."
posted by bshort at 9:25 AM on March 25, 2005


ASED, you're also implying that good Christians really have no humility at all...
posted by clevershark at 9:26 AM on March 25, 2005


An agnostic is an atheist with a sense of humility.

Both religious individuals and atheists have run to the edge of the cliff and taken the leap. Agnostics sort of hover around the edge, or shrug their shoulders and say, "who knows?"

I hope DaShiv is reading this. I believe that it is important to have faith in something. I'm not basing this on any sort of quantitative analysis, I just feel that having faith in some higher power gives our pitifully short time on this planet a little color. That said, I respect atheists in that they are making a powerful wager. Agnostics are content to just wait it out, or not commit as much thought to the matter. But when atheists attack faith, I see the pot taking shots at the kettle.

On preview: I'm not being contrary, all-seeing. Certainty definitely gets people in trouble. Only pointing out that faith in nothing is faith in something.

bshort: Thanks for boiling it down for us. I'll remember that next time a "scientist" tells me to bottle-feed my baby, or that autism is caused by proximity to powerlines. Christianity is not about "a talking snake." That's like the creationist statement that evolution means, "Our grandparents were monkeys!" The talking snake is a damned analogy and serves its purpose. Nice false dilemma, btw.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 9:30 AM on March 25, 2005


Wow, 2 references to Pascal's Wager in one thread. Pascal's Wager is useful to highlight the gulf between Christians and atheists: Christians believe that God himself is cynical and manipulative, while atheists merely believe Christians that rely on Pascal's Wager are cynical and manipulative.

The good news is that medical technology has advanced to the point where, if you wish to be cynical, you can disbelieve all you want during your life and then do a last-millisecond conversion. Best of both worlds.
posted by boaz at 9:31 AM on March 25, 2005


However, bashing Christianity for not being "scientific enough" is like kicking your dog for forgetting to do the dishes.

You shouldn't take things so personally. I wasn't "bashing" anything, including you. And you miss my (admittedly small) point: my problem is not with Christianity not being scientific enough -- rather than their penchant for attempting to close off any attempts at thinking outside of their prescribed views, which, come to think of it, is what the FPP is about.
posted by papercake at 9:31 AM on March 25, 2005


1. Someone posts something about the crazy fundies, likely something we've all seen before
2. We all have a little laugh at the fundies
3. Either
a. someone makes a comment that bashes more Christians than just the fundies, or
b. someone takes offense at a comment that was meant to be targeted at just the nutballs
4. Sides form, and we get the same tired snarking back and forth

What's the point? People can be intelligent, scientifically-minded, and as Christian as the Pope at the same time.

I think the Christians in the crowd are a little embarrassed about the fundies -- I can understand that, I know I would be -- and the non-Christians in the crowd are a little too eager to pounce. Both "sides" are buying into a division that doesn't have to exist. I can have my monkey-uncle, you can have your talking snake -- it really doesn't matter most of the time unless we start beating each other up over it.

Can't we all just... something something
posted by gurple at 9:31 AM on March 25, 2005


Oh, sorry then.

Maybe I should have changed the quote to read: "And on the other side we have... a giant, invisible, super hero in the sky who hates shrimp."
posted by bshort at 9:32 AM on March 25, 2005


all-seeing eye dog: I was just being flip really (comparing Einstein to Darwin is a little like comparing an aardvark to a throw pillow), but--well, relative explanatory powers of their contributions aside, for better or worse, Einstein's theories actually allowed people to do things they couldn't do before (like blow up whole cities, not that I'm advocating that kind of thing)... And a lot of Darwin's original theories have since been discarded, enhanced, or otherwise modified. Einstein's major theoretical contributions continue to be borne out experimentally, and remain more or less intact...

Not really. The atom bomb does not come directly out of Einstein's theory of Special Relativity. Einstein himself didn't make the jump between his meditations on the speed of light and nuclear physics, someone else (I forget who) did the math and discovered that Special Relativity explained the energy release during nuclear decay. The concept of a fission chain reaction was first developed by Hahn and Meitner and was championed by Fermi. Einstein was really a minor player in the whole thing. A large chunk of his lack of participation in the Manhattan project was as much due to his lack of expertise in nuclear physics as any political issue. You don't get from the speed of light to nuclear fission without quite a bit of enhancement and modification.

But it's the sad state of science education that Special Relativity is known by an equation that was a footnote in his paper. His paper was revolutionary on its own, but the real meat of Special Relativity was calculating the momentum of an object as it approached the speed of light. Most of the other implications (the Big Bang at one extreme and nuclear fission at the other) that come out of it were discovered by later researchers.

In addition, it is not really the case that Darwin's theories have been modified to such an extent that they are no longer intact. Darwinism has been borne out experimentally, and remain more or less intact. But such is the sad state of science education that you can make such claims with a straight face.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 9:35 AM on March 25, 2005


I'm not being contrary, all-seeing.

In a thread about religion, that is a really freaky phrase to see.
posted by jonmc at 9:37 AM on March 25, 2005


Whoops, I should correct that. I can't remember if E=mc^2 was a footnote or not. But it was a late addition and not the central focus of the paper. In fact, if it had been the central focus of the paper and not a rather trivial transformation of his momentum equation, it would have been written off as a prank.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 9:39 AM on March 25, 2005


It's a proven fact that 76% of all statistics are made up on the spot.
posted by Balisong at 9:43 AM on March 25, 2005


I wasn't trying to defend religious thought by utilizing Pascal's wager. It is horribly inept.

You could apply Pascal's wager to any God or Gods. "If I believe in C'thulu and he doesn't exist, no harm. If I don't believe in C'thulu and he does exist, he'll drink my soul. Er...better believe in C'thulu. AI! AI!"

bshort, you're starting to sound like a troll. Reducing a system that is not intended to be taken literally down to a comical description stills misses the important point. No one should be asked to defend religion from science, and vice versa. Just as no one should be asked to defend religion from the state, or the state from religion.

On preview: gurple, well put.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 9:50 AM on March 25, 2005


B_B, I can tell you're not a true believer. It's "IA! IA!" Really, what would the master of R'lyeh think?

Actually I think the state and religion need a lot of defending from each other. But that's a whole other ball of dung.
posted by gurple at 9:56 AM on March 25, 2005


Both religious individuals and atheists have run to the edge of the cliff and taken the leap. Agnostics sort of hover around the edge, or shrug their shoulders and say, "who knows?"

I disagree with that. Being a strong atheist myself, I postulate that there is no god. But I am not certain of that. Much in the same way that I postulate that we do not live in a Matrix type world or that I am not a brain in a vat. I can't prove these things and I am not certain of them. But I believe them enough to think and talk as though I were certain.

To me, being an agnostic means you do not think the evidence is strong enough to decide one way or the other. Being an atheist means you do, and you think the evidence indicates that there is no god. But you are not necessarily certain.
posted by Bort at 10:04 AM on March 25, 2005


I think most people would consider you an agnostic, Bort. I'm right about where you are, and that's what I consider myself.

A lot of people attach a stigma to the word "agnostic", equating it with lack of conviction. I never really understood the conviction-as-virtue thing.
posted by gurple at 10:08 AM on March 25, 2005


No one should be asked to defend religion from science, and vice versa.

I don't see why not.

When you have people who are asked to remove references to science because they might offend some religous nutjobs, you have a serious problem on your hands. Teach your children whatever religon you want, but if they're unfamiliar with science and objective facts because your high holy man says different, then you're doing them a massive disservice.
posted by bshort at 10:08 AM on March 25, 2005


"And on the other side we have... a giant, invisible, super hero in the sky who hates shrimp."

Why does god hate shrimp?

Back on topic, I grew up around Fort Worth, and visited their museum a few times on school trips. People there are as backwards as anywhere about evolution. I was stunned to hear people in my 9th grade biology class - consistently A students, no less - say that they "didn't believe in evolution." Up until that point I wasn't even aware that evolution was something to "believe in." It still baffles me, in fact.

Another thing that really bugs me: Those Jesus-fish-eating-Darwin-fish car decals. To me, slapping one of those on your car is equivalent to saying "I am an ignoramus." I once saw a car with both a Jesus fish and a Darwin fish. That person I had immense respect for. Plenty of people in this world have reconciled their belief in a Christian sort of God with the "theory" of evolution. (I hate using the word "theory" now, since it puts it at odds with "fact." Never mind the fact that gravity is a "theory" as well.)
posted by salad spork at 10:12 AM on March 25, 2005


Gurple: It's "IA! IA!"
Gah! I knew it, but the other day I was reading R.A.W. and I swear I saw it reversed. I was trying to be ub3r 1337. Maybe it's the a.i. and those who claim to know it's meaning know nothing...or something...eh. *goes and reads the bible*.

-100 scene points

On preview: Bort, I don't see the disagreement. You've said yourself that you postulate that there is no God, but you are not certain. Being a Christian, I postulate that there is a God, put I am not certain. Not, at least, in any scientific sense of the word. There we both have faith. But the agnostic is, as you put it, not willing to go one way or the other because the evidence is inconclusive. That is the edge of the cliff. Both you and I were willing to go it the next step, even though we both lack proof. The agnostic is unwilling to take this "leap of faith."

I'm not saying that agnosticism is bad! Far from it. I think the world could use a few more agnostics and a few fewer hard-headed Christians and Atheists.

bshort: Yeah, what I'm saying is that you, the scientist, with your research and theories and test tubes and...stuff... should not be asked to defend your ideas from religious nutjobs! Jeez! Look at the other side of the coin, people!

Salad spork: In the OT, god said not to eat sea bugs. I don't know why. Then, I don't know why god said not to mix linen with cotton. My car has a darwin fish kissing a jesus fish with a little heart of their heads. It is cute. Just like...just like jesus.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 10:16 AM on March 25, 2005


above their heads, rather.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 10:16 AM on March 25, 2005


Why does god hate shrimp?

Maybe he wants them all for himself? He definitely doesn't want you to have any.
posted by bshort at 10:18 AM on March 25, 2005


I'm really sick and tired of Christians assuming that atheism is the same thing as their ridiculous beliefs, only turned around. Atheism is not faith in the absence of God; it's the complete absence of belief all together. To me, the possibility of a Judeo-Christian God is as likely as everyone but me secretly being robots. If I see proof, fine, I'll believe it.

And don't pull that "well if you'd concede that there is a God if he showed himself then you're really agnostic" bullshit, either. I'm sure that pretty much all athiests would become believers if a giant hand parted the cloud and said "Hi! I'm God!" The thing that makes us different from agnostics is that we think it is more likely that there is no higher power than the reverse, and that we refuse to operate on the assumption that there might be.

Religion is a human construction. Don't forget that.
posted by borkingchikapa at 10:18 AM on March 25, 2005


Responses like "I really hate it when the theory of evolution is presented as fact," ... doomed the film's chances.

Just so I've got it straight, evolution is a fact, and natural selection is a theory, right?
If we can't agree on the facts, what's the point?
posted by boymilo at 10:19 AM on March 25, 2005


"The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, but wiser people so full of doubts."
posted by Armitage Shanks at 10:25 AM on March 25, 2005


I'm really sick and tired of Christians assuming that atheism is the same thing as their ridiculous beliefs, only turned around.

Amen, brother.

Just so I've got it straight, evolution is a fact, and natural selection is a theory, right?

Evolution is a theory. Just like gravity is a theory.
posted by bshort at 10:25 AM on March 25, 2005


Because a only small number of IMAX theaters show science films, a boycott by a few can reduce the potential audience to the point that producers question whether projects are financially worthwhile.

Your average WND reader sees that and thinks "We're winning." Monsters.
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 10:27 AM on March 25, 2005


it is not really the case that Darwin's theories have been modified to such an extent that they are no longer intact. Darwinism has been borne out experimentally, and remain more or less intact.

Indeedy. When you consider that Darwin knew nothing about genetics or microbiology he made some huge leaps and he was largely right about most of it. He got some of the details wrong but he admitted he couldn't explain everything he had theorized.
posted by fshgrl at 10:31 AM on March 25, 2005


borkingchikapa
I'm really sick and tired of Christians assuming that atheism is the same thing as their ridiculous beliefs

Atheism is not faith in the absence of God;...
we think it is more likely that there is no higher power than the reverse, and that we refuse to operate on the assumption that there might be.

And we Christians think it is more likely that there is a higher power, and we refuse to operate on the assumption that there isn't.

You're contradicting yourself. Do you have faith in the absence of God? Or is there some research that you'd like to show me regarding a Grand Unified Theory that completely disproves the existence of a higher power? Don't get your undies in a knot just because someone said that it take a degree of faith to be an atheist. It takes a degree of faith to do just about anything. Anything except be an agnostic.

Religion is a human construction. Don't forget that.

WTF is that supposed to prove? And God created humans. That man labels a belief system and POOF we become the prime mover?
Regardless, it seems the jury's still out on that one.

your responses are typically less prickly and more elegant. this was kind of surprising.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 10:31 AM on March 25, 2005


Being a Christian, I postulate that there is a God, put I am not certain.

If you are not certain you do not have faith. If you do not have faith you are not a Christian.
posted by clevershark at 10:33 AM on March 25, 2005


Please finish the quote, clevershark. "Being a Christian, I postulate that there is a God, but I am not certain. Not, at least, in any scientific sense of the word."

Certainty and faith are two different things. I'm am quite certain that we evolved from lesser apes. I have faith that my fiancee loves me.

Regardless, the questioning process is part of being a Christian, but I don't really want to get into soteriology in this thread. Unless you want me ta WITNESS ya. I'll witness ya good.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 10:39 AM on March 25, 2005


Or is there some research that you'd like to show me regarding a Grand Unified Theory that completely disproves the existence of a higher power?

Why should I have to prove the non-existence of anything? You're the one who's claiming that an immaterial, all-knowing, all-powerful being exists. Do you have any sort of proof, or even vague hints, of the existence of this imaginary friend?

I can claim that there's an invisible pink elephant in my closet, but there's no way anyone is going to believe me unless I can point to some sort of evidence that might indicate that I'm not just pulling it out of my ass.
posted by bshort at 10:43 AM on March 25, 2005


Please finish the quote, clevershark. "Being a Christian, I postulate that there is a God, but I am not certain. Not, at least, in any scientific sense of the word."

I still hear a lack of faith there. In fact I'd postulate that your spirituality hinges closer to agnosticism than you'd really want to admit.

Anyway, your religion's your own thing. However when you argue about it with others you shouldn't be surprised that people would want to poke holes into your theories, much as you want to do the same to theirs.

Unless you want me ta WITNESS ya. I'll witness ya good

If I knew WTF you meant by that I could address it. (?!?)
posted by clevershark at 10:47 AM on March 25, 2005


When the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History played the movie for a test audience, the responses were sufficiently negative for the museum to drop it from its offerings. Responses like "I really hate it when the theory of evolution is presented as fact," or "I don't agree with their presentation of human existence" doomed the film's chances.

Words cannot express how much this scares me. My own personal feelings about religion aside, when a science museum refuses to show a movie about science, we're doomed. F@cking doomed. Game over.
posted by afroblanca at 10:55 AM on March 25, 2005


I can claim that there's an invisible pink elephant in my closet, but there's no way anyone is going to believe me unless I can point to some sort of evidence that might indicate that I'm not just pulling it out of my ass.

Does the fact that it's invisible mean that it would hurt any less?
posted by joe lisboa at 11:00 AM on March 25, 2005


Why on earth would fundie nutjobs go to a science museum and then complain about the science? When I visit a cathedral, it never occurs to me to write "I really hate it when God is presented as fact" in the guestbook.
posted by Armitage Shanks at 11:01 AM on March 25, 2005


Armitage Shanks wins.
posted by joe lisboa at 11:02 AM on March 25, 2005


clevershark,
christian witnessing. Called by God to witness to the unbelievers. chik tracts. people in bus stations, handing out bibles.

Forget about it. Forget about the whole thing. I think faith in something is valuable, you do not. Fine. My faith isn't a theory, it doesn't have scientific value, it's not a certainty or a damned hypothesis or anything of that nature. It doesn't need to be deconstructed, because I'm not doing anything with it. I'm not protesting schools or abortion clinics or starting wars. I'm won't push it on you. That was what the whole witnessing thing was about.

But self-righteous atheists who lack understanding and attack people's faith out of sheer ignorance or a misplaced belief that scientific certainty is the most important thing in life deserve to have their IMAXs taken away.

My original argument was
1. Don't pretend to believe that all Christians are fundies
2. Don't attack peoples faith from a scientific podium, even though that's what they're doing to you.
3. Protect your science from their faith, protect your government from their church, and vice versa.

I'm not interested in debating the scientific merits of the existence or nonexistence of God. It is much more constructive to work on developing an agenda for dealing with the groundswell of Xtian fundy activism. What will we do when science classes in public schools are riddled with Xtian mythology? What will we do when Frist or Santorum are president? What will we do when abortion is illegal, non-Xtian nations no longer receive aid, and any semblance of a secular government is stripped away by the moral minority?
Attacking people because they believe in God is not a good start.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 11:04 AM on March 25, 2005


The primary mistake that people like (name elided in the interests of harmony) make in the "atheism is also faith!" claim is to draw an exact equivalence between belief and non-belief.

Such people assert that "I do not believe in X" is exactly the same sort of belief as "I believe in X". But this isn't the same thing at all. If I were asked, "Do you believe there is an invisible monster under your bed", I would reply without hesitation, "no". There is no evidence for such a monster and so I don't believe in it. Similarly, there is no evidence for a god so I don't believe in it. Neither case requires any faith.

And yet many (not all) Christians are unable to make this (to me) elementary leap of logic. They seem to fall back on some variation of "but God is completely different!", which is just a form of begging the question. I no more believe in a god than I believe in unicorns... and yet people of faith have no trouble recognizing that nonbelief in unicorns is not "faith" while not being able to see the god thing is exactly the same.
posted by Justinian at 11:11 AM on March 25, 2005


It is much more constructive to work on developing an agenda for dealing with the groundswell of Xtian fundy activism.

Given that atheists can't get elected to the proverbial dogcatcher in this country while lunatics like Pat Robertson have the President's ear, it seems incumbent on Christians to take the lead on this, since they're the only ones who can have any real effect. I don't see a lot of that happening.
posted by Armitage Shanks at 11:14 AM on March 25, 2005


An agnostic is someone who admits to not being certain one way or the other, acknowledging that belief in God is an inherently unfalsifiable hypothesis. This stops short of certainty. Certainty is what gets people in trouble, IMO. Athiests consciously position themselves in opposition to theists, while agnostics admit uncertainty into their world view. That makes agnostics more humble about the extent to which they can be certain.

Hmm. Okay, so actually the clever saying should be "An Agnostic is just a person with humility", because Athiests AND Religious Folk are "certain" about their beliefs. You can't call an Athiest arrogant for being certain, and defend it by saying "because I am -certain- there is a God".

That said...


A lot of people attach a stigma to the word "agnostic", equating it with lack of conviction. I never really understood the conviction-as-virtue thing.


Exactly. Let's face it: we don't know many things. Even those things we know often have underlying causes or structures that we don't fully understand. The whole point of living, last I checked, was to explore the universe to see what there is to see. The day you sit down and claim that everything you believe now is everything you will believe for the rest of your life is the day you (mentally) die.

So that makes me (for now) a secular humanist continually fascinated by the world around me, and always interesting in learning new things. I wasn't always a secular humanist, and perhaps I won't always be. I'm not strictly red or blue state, either.

I should have picked the username 'wishy-washy', I guess

Oh, and when I was a kid, I once told another kid that I was leaning towards Athiesm, and he threw a rock at me. Heh.
posted by davejay at 12:00 PM on March 25, 2005


I feel almost mean saying this, but it drives me absolutely fucking batty: please spell Atheist correctly. If it helps you to remember, think of how at heart it is an "ism". Maybe that will assist people in keeping it straight.

Unless I'm wrong and you're going off about being the most athi of all.
posted by beth at 12:16 PM on March 25, 2005


On the Darwin v. Einstein issue: I really don't care to defend my earlier remarks because they were, as I tried to stress, just off-hand remarks. Of course it's accurate that Einstein's theories didn't lead directly to the development of the bomb. But it's absolutely true that the bomb couldn't have been developed w/out his contributions to theoretical physics in general. Even if Darwin hadn't figured natural selection out, presumably we would have continued to evolve (and I don't really see where we've made much progress in taking a more active role in the course of our own evolution, so I still say Einstein's contributions were more concrete). But let's not get into a finicky discussion on special and general relativity when we're really discussing bigger issues.

You can't define the word "atheism" (literally: "without God") down according to some less rigid, subjective meaning just because you want some rhetorical wiggle room: It means, "No way; no God. Not even gonna consider any so-called evidence that suggests otherwise. Even if God walked up to me and piddled on my shoes, I wouldn't believe it had happened." "Agnosticism" (literally: "without knowledge"), just means the jury's still out where the evidence is concerned, not that you're hedging your bets. Admitting you don't know something is inherently more modest than claiming you do, IMO.

Faith isn't about evidence, and no one has ever pretended it is, so where's the conflict between evidence and faith? The imaginary problems start to appear only once you accept the faulty premise that science and religion are supposed to have any bearing on each other at all. Their roles are probably best understood as complementary: Science gives us hope by solving our problems; religion gives us hope when we face problems science can't (or hasn't yet solved).Still, to be fair, religion has had a long history of overextending its authority, so it's perfectly understandable that scientific-positivists are a bit suspicious of religion and "faith."
posted by all-seeing eye dog at 12:22 PM on March 25, 2005


This scares me like you wouldn't believe.

As a friend of mine said, it's like The Dark Ages II over there.
posted by flippant at 12:23 PM on March 25, 2005


D'oh! Guess I misspelled it in some of my previous posts, too. It should actually be easy to remember as "a-theism" (like "a-moral," "a-historical," etc.)
posted by all-seeing eye dog at 12:26 PM on March 25, 2005


All-seeing eye dog: You don't get to define atheism however you'd like. I, and many if not most other atheists, reject your definition. What you're doing is the very definition of a strawman argument.

I suggest reading any decent primer on atheism and the differences between strong and weak atheism.
posted by Justinian at 12:30 PM on March 25, 2005


Similarly, there is no evidence for a god so I don't believe in it. Neither case requires any faith.

But that's not the strong atheist position. The strong atheist position actually makes a more positive claim, excluding the possibility of anything even remotely god-like, and denying that any evidence will ever be found to the contrary.
posted by all-seeing eye dog at 12:31 PM on March 25, 2005


"You don't get to define atheism however you'd like."

I wasn't defining it as I like; I was describing its etymological roots (lit. "without God"). Any subtle transformations of meaning that have occurred since the word first entered the English language are the result of other people doing just what you say I can't do, i.e., defining it however they like.
posted by all-seeing eye dog at 12:36 PM on March 25, 2005


ASED - You can claim that words have whatever meaning you want, but no one is going to agree with you. Language is the result of massive group decisions made in incremental ways over long periods of time.

Claiming that the meaning of a word is exactly the sum of its etymological roots is unbelievably stupid.
posted by bshort at 12:44 PM on March 25, 2005


The imaginary problems start to appear only once you accept the faulty premise that science and religion are supposed to have any bearing on each other at all. Their roles are probably best understood as complementary: Science gives us hope by solving our problems; religion gives us hope when we face problems science can't (or hasn't yet solved).

Even by your definition, science clearly has a bearing on religion in that it has a history of proving religion factually wrong, and the reaction has often been to attack the messenger.
posted by Armitage Shanks at 12:47 PM on March 25, 2005


bshort: A fan of Wittgenstein, eh?

My point is just that the average guy on the street cares dick for any distinctions you or I might make between strong and weak atheism, or any subtler distinctions for that matter. Which brings me back to a quote from my original FPP: "In the end, it's the audience that counts." And most non-academic types still read "atheism" in that original sense of "without God"--to deny that is unbelievably stupid.

"Why on earth would fundie nutjobs go to a science museum and then complain about the science? When I visit a cathedral, it never occurs to me to write "I really hate it when God is presented as fact" in the guestbook."

Armitage Shanks wins.

I agree.
posted by all-seeing eye dog at 12:51 PM on March 25, 2005


I'm not interested in debating the scientific merits of the existence or nonexistence of God. It is much more constructive to work on developing an agenda for dealing with the groundswell of Xtian fundy

Precisely the point, as BB said. I am not interested in professing or defending atheism. However, when fundamentalist christians try to prevent abortions and snip out of the science curriculum anything that doesn't square with their fairytales, or try to manipulate foreign policy to coincide with what they consider to be the proper preparation for the end of the world, then I get mad.

As for the "atheism is a faith" opinion - I will paraphrase Bertrand Russell - if you insist there is a teapot in elliptical orbit about the sun, they it's up to you to prove it. My denial of that absurdity does not constitute "faith."

The imaginary problems start to appear only once you accept the faulty premise that science and religion are supposed to have any bearing on each other at all.

Agreed. Please cc Imax and the U.S. Congress.
posted by QuietDesperation at 12:51 PM on March 25, 2005


One last point: Definitions (by definition) are things we stipulate. Even atheists don't always agree on what it means to be an atheist (that's why there are strong and weak positions); in the meantime, the guy on the street doesn't care at all, takes the term to mean what he thinks it's supposed to mean, and fritters away hours having unproductive arguments on the internet. There's enough inflexibility to go around on all sides... In fact, I'm convinced that much of the anti-academic resentment that's been brewing over the last few years in America is a result of the academic community refusing to let non-academics play a role in negotiating the meanings of terms like "atheism." Even if you take the Wittgensteinien view of meaning arising through use and consensus, the ten percent or less of the population that defines "atheism" as you do can't honestly be considered large enough to qualify as a social consensus, so your point fails.
posted by all-seeing eye dog at 1:02 PM on March 25, 2005


fshgrl writes "Atheists are as capable of feeling humility in the face of the natural world or the kindness of strangers or others knowledge or whatever as anyone else."

A secular faith:
There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed by the Creator into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone circling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being evolved. -- Final sentence of The Origin of Species
But Justinian writes " The primary mistake that people like (name elided in the interests of harmony) make in the 'atheism is also faith!' claim is to draw an exact equivalence between belief and non-belief."

So is this a good idea? [pdf]
posted by orthogonality at 1:14 PM on March 25, 2005


Somehow appropriate to these discussions: "Everything is about to double in size!"
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 1:34 PM on March 25, 2005


all-seeing eye dog: But it's absolutely true that the bomb couldn't have been developed w/out his contributions to theoretical physics in general. Even if Darwin hadn't figured natural selection out, presumably we would have continued to evolve (and I don't really see where we've made much progress in taking a more active role in the course of our own evolution, so I still say Einstein's contributions were more concrete).

One of the "greater issues" than you reference has to do with the relative value and implications of Darwin's theory of Evolution, vs. Einstein's theories of Relativity. You have made some pretty big claims, and so the factual and historic accuracy of those claims really needs to be considered.

To start with, calling Einstein's Gedanken experiments a "concrete contribution" is a basic factual error. Einstein's theories of relativity are based on consideration of imaginary observers put into extreme situations, phenomina that human beings are never expected to observe directly. The "concrete contributions" were made by scientists with expertise in experimental physics and astronomy. Einstein's theories serve as a framework for a large chunk of psysics and astronomy. It does not explain everything, but it explains a heck of a lot.

Likewise, Darwinian evolution is currently the backbone of biology, providing a framework for population genetics, molecular biology, medicine, anatomy, ecology, immunology, behavioral genetics, and epidemeology. The "concrete contributions" of Darwin are on your dinner plate, at the doctor's office and available on any lawn. Darwinism is supported by more independent lines of evidence than any of Einstein's theories.

So lets leave Einstein out of it (although I will say that the cult of personality and celebrity has made it very difficult to talk about how "smart" he really was.) What is your evidence for the claim that Evolution is not a viable theory that has made concrete contributions to contemporary biology?

You can't define the word "atheism" (literally: "without God") down according to some less rigid, subjective meaning ...

Are you going to make the argument that there are objective meanings in language? But here you are treading on thin ice. Would you argue that pornography should be limited to "writing about prostitutes?" or that computer "graphics" should be limited to just words on a screen? Would you argue that an "endomorphic" person does not have arms or legs?

When you start adding the root "-ism" to the end, then you really have problems. Would you say that Marxism is the condition of having Karl (or Groucho) Marx?

Arguing that we should ignore the history of how the word has been used and insisting on definitions derived entirely from greek and latinate roots is highly sophomoric (which is an oxymoron taken by its roots).

My point is just that the average guy on the street cares dick for any distinctions you or I might make between strong and weak atheism, or any subtler distinctions for that matter. Which brings me back to a quote from my original FPP: "In the end, it's the audience that counts." And most non-academic types still read "atheism" in that original sense of "without God"--to deny that is unbelievably stupid.

The "average guy on the street" believes a lot of things that are not necessarily true. That does not mean that we should indulge those misconceptions.

If you think the "average guy on the street" has a really bad opinion of what atheism is about, you should ask around in regards to homosexuality/bisexuality. Or minority religions such as Islam or Wicca.

In fact, I'm convinced that much of the anti-academic resentment that's been brewing over the last few years in America is a result of the academic community refusing to let non-academics play a role in negotiating the meanings of terms like "atheism." Even if you take the Wittgensteinien view of meaning arising through use and consensus, the ten percent or less of the population that defines "atheism" as you do can't honestly be considered large enough to qualify as a social consensus, so your point fails.

But, social consensus is defined within a particular language group, not over entire nations. As an example, the meaning of "Christian" within a church will be different from the meaning in a society at large.

What you've basically just said is that minorities don't have the right to define their experiences and views in their own terms. To me, that is an extremely dangerous thing to say.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 1:46 PM on March 25, 2005


An atheist, by definition, is someone who's certain there's no God (or gods, as the case may be). An agnostic is someone who admits to not being certain one way or the other, acknowledging that belief in God is an inherently unfalsifiable hypothesis.

A trite, yet obnoxious slander. Atheism has nothing to do with certainty. An atheist is simply a person who has no religious belief. Literally an a-thiest.

In actuality, the word "atheist" means someone who has no position on god (but probably thinks it probably doesn’t exist) whereas an agnostic believes it is not possible for a human being to know if god exists or not. Most people who claim to be agnostic are actually atheists.
posted by delmoi at 2:07 PM on March 25, 2005


demoi: In actuality, the word "atheist" means someone who has no position on god (but probably thinks it probably doesn’t exist) whereas an agnostic believes it is not possible for a human being to know if god exists or not. Most people who claim to be agnostic are actually atheists.

Actually, agnosticism as proposed by Huxley was quite a bit more modest. His claim was that until someone comes up with a proof or disproof of god, it was better to just say, "I don't know" and move on to other things.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 2:13 PM on March 25, 2005


Dag! I should have known better than to toss out that darwin v. einstein thing... It was way more distracting than I intended. It was really just supposed to be a sort of throw-away boast--as in, "my hero" can beat up "your hero." But dang it all, some folks just can't seem to take a joke! (I guess I didn't help matters by persisting in defending my position when I had no intention of putting any heft into it).

"What you've basically just said is that minorities don't have the right to define their experiences and views in their own terms. To me, that is an extremely dangerous thing to say."


Nope. I was speaking directly to bshort's point, which relates to Wittgensteins position on meaning (he argued against the possibility of so-called private meanings and argued that meaning could only be arrived at through a kind of negotiated social consensus)... bshort specifically argued a point from that position, and my point related only to his specific argument.

Any community can define its characteristic argot however it pleases; it just shouldn't go expecting that others miraculously understand its argot, nor should it flatly refuse to consider negotiating the meanings of terms that others use in their own way, too. To the extent that something as fluid as language "belongs" to anyone, English belongs to English-speakers--not a particular nation or subculture. That's not a hegemony issue: it's a making language a useful tool issue. Now if a particular community wants to create a whole new lexicon for itself, and insist that only members of its community have a say in how the terms in that lexicon are defined, well fine. Just don't be surprised when all the "outsiders" don't know what the hell you're talking about half the time, and find your arguments completely unpersuasive and bewildering.
posted by all-seeing eye dog at 2:23 PM on March 25, 2005


oops. strike "wittgensteins position"; insert: "wittgenstein's position."
posted by all-seeing eye dog at 2:24 PM on March 25, 2005


And lumping Christians together is ABSOLUTELY NO DIFFERENT from me posting a comment along the lines of:

All those damned atheists (communists) are trying to destroy our kids minds by only teaching the stuff that they want!


Auctully, it's completely different. At this time in America athiests are not an organized group trying to cleanse soceity of anything that offends them. Even the most die hard athiests don't go to the local church and demand they not talk about god while the religious types go to schools and demand they not talk about sceince.

Religion is the greatest evil ever visited upon this planet. Every single war in human history has roots in religion. Our current situation is a perfect example, we've got conservative Muslims on one side and conservative Christians on the other side.

to make the claim that some religions are better then others is the moral equivelant of saying "it's okay to be a serical killer if you only kill 5 people instead of 200. It's still murder, it's still reilion, it's still evil.
posted by berek at 2:32 PM on March 25, 2005


Also, this thread was derailed something bad. Lets try to stay on topic people!
posted by delmoi at 2:33 PM on March 25, 2005


I wasn't arguing against specialized word meaning developing in a local community. I was arguing that you're a freaking idiot if you think that etymology has much to do with actual definitions and / or connotations.

You're really all about the straw-man arguments today.
posted by bshort at 2:46 PM on March 25, 2005


all-seeing eye dog: Any community can define its characteristic argot however it pleases; it just shouldn't go expecting that others miraculously understand its argot, nor should it flatly refuse to consider negotiating the meanings of terms that others use in their own way, too.

I don't know where this has been argued. But there are two words that you keep coming back to, "negotiation" and "consensus." If you insist on dictating to a group what their words mean, then it is neither "negotiation" or "consensus."

From where I sit, I'm seeing much more hostility to negotiation of the meaning of atheism coming from you, than from anybody else.

To the extent that something as fluid as language "belongs" to anyone, English belongs to English-speakers--not a particular nation or subculture.

Where I would argue that there is, and probably has never been any such thing as a unified "English-speakers."

Now if a particular community wants to create a whole new lexicon for itself, and insist that only members of its community have a say in how the terms in that lexicon are defined, well fine. Just don't be surprised when all the "outsiders" don't know what the hell you're talking about half the time, and find your arguments completely unpersuasive and bewildering.

Actually, I've found that it is quite easy to explain how terms are used within a subculture, provided the other person is willing to listen. Is it the case that our arguments are bewildering, or is it the case that you seem to have stopped your ears with cotton and resorted to shouting, "you can't handle the truth."
posted by KirkJobSluder at 3:16 PM on March 25, 2005


MetaFilter: You're a freaking idiot.
posted by Justinian at 3:16 PM on March 25, 2005


I would also like to state that the average "joe on the street" has a bunch of other connotations associated with the word "atheist" going beyond the existance of god to judging my overall moral character. Do I not have a vested interest in saying, "my experiences living as an atheist, do not match your assumptions?"
posted by KirkJobSluder at 3:24 PM on March 25, 2005


Fear of protests by those objecting to films that contradict the Biblical account of creation is cited as the reason.
The Bible would thump these idiots across their foreheads.

Think about what this says in our society today which has been seen for the last decades now. Not being afraid of Bush: standing up for yourself and your fellow humnans. Examples are taking action when no one else will or having your back too.
See this in crime against individuals in public -- don't involve ME.
posted by thomcatspike at 3:30 PM on March 25, 2005


PRAISE BOB, YOU SLACKLESS PINKOS! THE ATOMIC COWBOY RIDES AGAIN!

AMEN! :)
posted by nola at 3:41 PM on March 25, 2005


Do I not have a vested interest in saying, "my experiences living as an atheist, do not match your assumptions?"'

Yes! Please do more of that! Just do it in ways that engage your intended audience and respect their right to participate in the discussion--don't do it by calling other people freaking idiots, or they'll be outside your window with pitchforks and torches in no time! No amount of reasoning, no matter how solid, can protect you from pitchforks!

bshort: Analyzing the etymology of a word is a perfectly valid approach to examining or clarifying a word's meaning. I didn't mean to suggest that a word should only be allowed to mean what its constituent parts originally meant, just that looking at a word's roots can offer valuable insight into how the word was originally used when disagreement or confusion arises, since words have no meaning apart from their use, and its not uncommon for semantic confusion to arise as the meanings of words evolve over time.

Is it the case that our arguments are bewildering, or is it the case that you seem to have stopped your ears with cotton and resorted to shouting, "you can't handle the truth."

Believe me. I'm not bewildered by these arguments, and I haven't stopped up my ears. I'm just trying to point out that when people do react that way, it might not hurt to figure out a better way to approach them than resorting to completely unsupported ad hominem attacks ("you so stupid!") or assuming you can safely ignore them... Just a thought.
posted by all-seeing eye dog at 3:45 PM on March 25, 2005


There is a difference between science and metaphysics, but I would say the methods are similar.
There is a vast difference between science and "faith" and knowlege garnered by that faith.
Some human experiance is beyond what is measurable but that doesn't mean it changes the physical properties of the universe or observations based on those properties.

One can believe in a soul, etc. and still rationally understand evolution.
Of course, theaters have to bend to their bottom line, and merchants are in no way heros, but it does offend me when the bible is cited as some kind of authority on matters that have been updated thousands of times over the years.

Still, myopia and willfull ignorance are ultimately self-destructive. One doesn't see cyclops lemmings in nature.
posted by Smedleyman at 3:55 PM on March 25, 2005


I think most people would consider you an agnostic, Bort. I'm right about where you are, and that's what I consider myself.

agnosticism usually means the person considers the question fundamentally unanswerable, or feels quite ambivalent about it. As others have said, a-theism is often just straightforward "secular humanism", which is to say, the belief-in-god-problem is not a problem for us. That's something you folks over there are struggling with, which to us just kind of doesn't make any sense.

Of course, all of this assumes some kind of actual understanding of what "god" means, and I'll admit that after reading what a lot of philosophers are trying to get at when they say "god", I think sometimes this is a problem of semantics (not when it comes to christian fundies, but when it comes to spiritual/deist types). I think believers often don't even really know what they mean themselves, when they say "god", and they just use it to stand in for some sense of awe or meaning - which I prefer to just call "a sense of awe or meaning" :).
posted by mdn at 4:03 PM on March 25, 2005


all-seeing eye dog writes "I'm just trying to point out that when people do react that way, it might not hurt to figure out a better way to approach them than resorting to completely unsupported ad hominem attacks ('you so stupid!') or assuming you can safely ignore them."

But without the flame wars and the call-outs and the ad hominem attacks and the derails, we might, you know...

...like, find common ground or something.

You want to put all the flame-warriors out of work or something? I mean, now that AOL has left usenet, and with this economy, finding a flame-warrior job isn't like it was in the dot.boom, when they were hiring "you're [sic] momma" insulters directly from the 6th grade playground recesses. You want half of Mefites' kids to starve?
posted by orthogonality at 4:11 PM on March 25, 2005


I still hear a lack of faith there. In fact I'd postulate that your spirituality hinges closer to agnosticism than you'd really want to admit.

even mother theresa wasn't sure... That's why the god problem is not evenly distributed between believers and non-believers. It's difficult to believe in something which is fundamentally and even by definition beyond the grasp of the human mind, etc - so even the most devoted believers suffer from a lack of certainty.

Atheists are just not troubled by this conflict. Agnostics are troubled by it but cannot resolve it. Theists have chosen to have faith that it is true - but this is commonly not a resolution which quiets all the inner turmoil over the question.
posted by mdn at 4:17 PM on March 25, 2005


all-seeing eye dog: Believe me. I'm not bewildered by these arguments, and I haven't stopped up my ears. I'm just trying to point out that when people do react that way, it might not hurt to figure out a better way to approach them than resorting to completely unsupported ad hominem attacks ("you so stupid!") or assuming you can safely ignore them... Just a thought.

Ok, I'm an atheist. Can I prove beyond any doubt that there is no god? Of course not. However, none of the evidence claimed for the existence of god has been convicing enough to warrant "belief." Therefore, I live my life the best I can, without worrying about a heaven or hell or what god wants.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 4:32 PM on March 25, 2005


Christians are closet agnostics and atheists think they know it all when they don't.
posted by FieldingGoodney at 4:54 PM on March 25, 2005


On the Internet, nobody knows FieldingGoodney is a god.
posted by Armitage Shanks at 5:08 PM on March 25, 2005


MetaFilter: No amount of reasoning, no matter how solid, can protect you from pitchforks.
posted by schyler523 at 5:11 PM on March 25, 2005


I don't know fi anybody is still reading to discuss the original story at this point, but the president of the National Association of Theater Owners said at the ShoWest conference just a week or two prior:
When a theater chain calls to tell me there are a group of protesters outside their theater, I tell them, "Give them free popcorn, free soda and tell them to stay there as long as possible."
(from IMDb news, 16-March-2005)
IMAX's claim that controversy is the reason they won't show the films in certain markets rings a little hollow.
posted by Potsy at 6:19 PM on March 25, 2005


afroblanca

Words cannot express how much this scares me. My own personal feelings about religion aside, when a science museum refuses to show a movie about science, we're doomed.

The controversy is not about science, it is about mythology

Baby_Balrog

A Gallup poll, released earlier this month, reveals that 81 percent of U.S. teenagers believe God was somehow involved in human origins, with only 18 percent holding a purely secular view of evolution.

This sort of thing frustrates me to no end. If Gallup asked me, "Was God somehow involved in human origins?" I would answer with a resounding "yes". I don't see what this has to do with macroevolution! There are quite a few people out there who have sufficiently large brains as they can conceptualize a reality that includes both the working scientific theories of the day and their overwhelming certainty of a numinous presence in the world.

I'm sick of pollsters painting Christians (or anyone else, for that matter) as black and white. Lordy! 81% of teens are bible-banging Xtians! And the other 18% are God-hating atheists! I would contend that most Christians are pleased by the widow into God's majesty that Darwin provided. The vocal creationists are misrepresenting the majority, and the pollsters are playing this up with their simple-minded questions.


Evolution makes God superfluous. God makes evolution superfluous.

All we can say about such beliefs is, firstly, that they are superfluous and, secondly, that they assume the existence of the main thing we want to explain, namely, organized complexity. ~ Richard Dawkins

If God created the first organism, then how do we know he didn't do the same thing to produce all those animal groups that appear so suddenly in the Cambrian rocks? Given the existence of a designer ready and willing to do the work, why should we suppose that random mutations and natural selection are responsible for such marvels of engineering as the eye and the wing? ~ Phillip Johnson
posted by bevets at 6:58 PM on March 25, 2005


Evolution makes God superfluous. God makes evolution superfluous.

So you're saying that if evolution is actually true, but God made it that way, that you disagree with God? I personally prefer to trust God's own signs in the form of the world around us rather than assume he's trying to trick us. See you in the afterlife.
posted by Space Coyote at 7:31 PM on March 25, 2005


Rules for evolution vs. creationism threads

1. Immediately cite TalkOrigins. It's a valuable resource and a lot of people have spent a lot of time researching these arguments.
2. Mock anyone who tries to equate belief in a higher power with the belief of the non-existence of a higher power. They're just wrong.
3. When bevets shows his ugly, trollish, little head it's time to pack up. Don't argue with him. Don't engage him in conversation. Just ignore him.
posted by bshort at 8:43 PM on March 25, 2005


berek:
Me: And lumping Christians together is ABSOLUTELY NO DIFFERENT from me posting a comment along the lines of:
All those damned atheists (communists) are trying to destroy our kids minds by only teaching the stuff that they want!

You: Auctully, it's completely different. At this time in America atheists are not an organized group trying to cleanse soceity of anything that offends them.


And neither are Christians. Apparently my original point folded space somewhere around your speech center.

while the religious types go to schools and demand they not talk about sceince.

and there we have the glorious sweeping generalization that my original point was addressing. Maybe you're just trying to illustrate the secularist's disinterest in differentiating between the Christians and the fundys?

Religion is the greatest evil ever visited upon this planet.

I would argue, from the planet's perspective, that the industrial revolution ranks right up there. But, you know, have an opinion.

Every single war in human history has roots in religion.

And money. And geography. And resources. And nationalism. And twinkies. (One of these things is doin' its own thing...)

Our current situation is a perfect example, we've got conservative Muslims on one side and conservative Christians on the other side.

Oh. So that's why they attacked the WTC. That glorious bastion of Conservative Christianity. And the Pentagon, obvious hide-out of Conservative Christian think tanks. Had nothin' to do with...oh...anything else.
And of course, our attacking Iraq was BECAUSE THEY ARE MUSLIM. Not because they have things that we want.
Are you 12?

to make the claim that some religions are better then others is the moral equivelant of saying "it's okay to be a serical killer if you only kill 5 people instead of 200. It's still murder, it's still reilion, it's still evil.

Who the hell is claiming that? Are you sure you're posting to the right thread? I've seen several people post religiously identifying statements, however I have yet to see even the most conservative amongst us make any claim to religious superiority.
Maybe you should read a little bit about Stalin, or Pol Pot, or fucking Guatemalan death squads, or just pull your head out of your ass before you try and categorize the few liberal Christians who open their mouths as "serical killers."

It's the little button next to "preview".
posted by Baby_Balrog at 12:18 PM on March 26, 2005


I'm too unoriginal to write my own posts, so I quote excerpts from other peoples words that fit my argument. I have a straw man factory in my back yard, and it is working overtime. ~ Bevets


posted by schyler523 at 5:23 PM on March 26, 2005


And lumping Christians together is ABSOLUTELY NO DIFFERENT from me posting a comment along the lines of:

All those damned atheists (communists) are trying to destroy our kids minds by only teaching the stuff that they want!

Auctully, it's completely different. At this time in America athiests are not an organized group trying to cleanse soceity of anything that offends them.



Hahahahaha, that was the most unintentionally funny comment I've seen in a while. Bonus points for exposing your own ignorance and proving your opponent's point in the same breath.
posted by TungstenChef at 6:53 PM on March 26, 2005


I normally wouldn't self-post in a comment, but....

Scientific American's April Letter from the Editor speaks about how they're planning to balance the magazine's format to incorporate more Intelligent Design theories. SciAm has only an abstract up, and I do think the entire thing worth reading. Because
"In retrospect, this magazine’s coverage of so-called evolution has been hideously one-sided. For decades, we published articles in every issue that endorsed the ideas of Charles Darwin and his cronies. True, the theory of common descent through natural selection has been called the unifying concept for all of biology and one of the greatest scientific ideas of all time, but that was no excuse to be fanatics about it."
The editorial runs with a mock-up of a future issue cover analyzing Flat Earth theories.

:-D
posted by zarq at 1:49 PM on March 28, 2005


Doh! http://www.metafilter.com/mefi/40733 :(
posted by zarq at 2:07 PM on March 28, 2005


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